The much needed link between Liverpool Sth Parkway St & John Lennon Airport

Not so long ago I posted about Liverpool Airport’s missing rail link. Here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/08/01/liverpool-airports-missing-rail-link/

Not long after I blogged about it I came across the views of a fellow railway campaigner Cedric Green of the North Cheshire Rail Users Group. Now this group already has a big feather in it’s cap because they were the successful lobbyists for the Halton Curve to be reinstated.

And what have they now turned their sights on? Gaining a connection between Liverpool South Parkway Station and Liverpool John Lennon Airport but you may be surprised by their preferred solution – a Personal Rapid Transport system like the POD at Heathrow Terminal 5. Here it is in action on You Tube:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHyxakXed34

Presently of course South Parkway (often referred to as the airport Station) is only connected to John Lennon Airport via buses using the congested local road network. So would the POD work in Liverpool, it certainly looks like it would be fun to ride on.

Merseyrail back in 1977

I recently picked up an old publicity map of Merseyside’s local railway network published in 1977 at a time when it was being substantially redeveloped as an underground railway within Liverpool City Centre.

Merseyrail Network

Click on the map to enlarge it

You can see from the main map that the electrified services only reached Rock Ferry back then on one of the Wirral Lines (in Green). Extensions were subsequently constructed to both Chester and Ellsemere Port in later years. An additional station also appeared along this line at Bromborough Rake and a further one at Overpool on the Ellsemere Port extension. Conway Park Station is an addition to the Network too. Upton-By-Chester Station has since been replaced by Bache Station about half a mile away from it.

The Northern Line line (in Blue) now terminates in Liverpool’s southern suburbs at Hunts Cross. This extension from Liverpool Central Station (which was an overground station until the 1970’s but is now underground) along the tracks of the former Cheshire Lines Committee was yet to be completed at the time the map was drawn. Also, this southern end of the Northern Line gained a new station at Brunswick (first stop out of Liverpool) whilst Garston Station has since been replaced by Liverpool South Parkway.

Of course the former Liverpool Exchange Station was lost as a consequence of this 1970’s redesign of Merseyside’s railway network and it was replaced by Moorfields Station which is close to it but underground.

The presently named Rice Lane Station on the Liverpool – Kirkby Northern Line (in Blue) was called Preston Road Back then.

Merseyrail map

The next significant addition to the Merseyrail Network of electrified lines will be the soon to be constructed Maghull Station on the Northern Line to Ormskirk. It’s name clearly identifies its location i.e. north of the present Maghull Station which is beyond its capacity at rush hours.

Just a bit of recent Merseyside railway history, please feel free to comment particularly if I have got anything wrong.

Merseytravel/Merseyrail – 20 years of big local railway ambitions many of which have hit the buffers! – Posting 2

My first blog on this subject, posted on 29th January, was based on RAIL Magazine’s Merseyside feature in edition No.208 of September 1993.

We now move on to an edition of modern railways from August 2003 and their feature article headed ‘Bright future on Merseyside: 25 year franchise, new tram network’

rsz_photo0567

* June 2003 saw a £3.6b 25year contract awarded to Serco/Nedrail to run Merseyside’s 3rd rail electrified lines which serve 66 stations.

* Interestingly, cost cutting by a previous operator (MTL), who had run the electrified trains from rail privatisation until Arriva gained a short contract to run them, came in for some criticism in the article. Fines for poor services had hit £6m, we were told!

The fleet of class 507/508’s trains were then breaking down every 4,000 to 5,000 miles they travelled; well below the expected average of 15,000 miles per break down. They are clearly performing far better these days.

The article states that 25 overground and 5 underground stations were to be refurbished by 2006 – 5 per year. I have not checked this in detail so any comments would be welcome.

Another pledge was that all stations would be fully accessible by the end of the next Local Transport Plan in 2010. My reasonably informed guess is that this did not happen but I could be wrong.

rsz_photo0568

In the 10 years from 1993 (when the first magazine article that I reviewed was published) to 2003 it was claimed that £72m had been spent on the network with 5 new stations and 7 refurbishments. Old Roan, Kirkdale and Conway Park Stations were highlighted.

We then move on to planned expansion of the network and that old chestnut opening up the ‘Bootle Mineral Branch’ which runs from Bootle to Aintree was noted [it has not happened]. ‘The Bootle – Aintree link will only need about two miles of track to be upgraded and electrified and is covered in the LTP’ (Local Transport Plan). Sounds grand and as though it was a certainty but……………

Another plan in 2003 was to open up the Bootle to Edge Hill line to meet the demands of the proposed new football stadium [neither has happened].

And hey look more talk of an extension of the line beyond Kirkby. [still not happened]

And another one that did the rounds back in 1993 – ‘the possibility of electrifying the Bidston to Wrexham line (back then operated by First North Western) and adding it to the Merseyrail Electrics system is also being considered.’ Well another 11 years on there is no sign of this getting off the ground.

The ‘£16m’ Liverpool South Parkway got a mention – trouble is it actually cost £32m!

Separately in this edition of modern railways the infamous merseytram project is covered and back in 2003 it was still a live project. The article tells us that the then Secretary of State for Transport had approved £170m towards the £225m cost of Line 1 to Kirkby and the Liverpool City Centre lines. Of course Merseytram came to a rather sticky end when the then Labour Government gave up on the project (probably because of Merseyside’s dysfunctional local governance) and pulled its contribution.

So we have moved forward 10 years to 2003, some things have happened but many have not and pipe dreaming is still a significant factor it would seem. But what about Southport AGAIN? Still no mention of upgrading its eastern and northern rail access or reinstating the Burscough Curves. My recollection is that such matters got a great deal of tea and sympathy, when raised by Sefton Councillors, but in reality Merseytravel seemed hardly aware that it was the Transport Authority for this important seaside town at the north of its empire.